Gardaí still 'subjected to despicable spitting and coughing attacks' says Garda Commissioner

Gardaí still 'subjected to despicable spitting and coughing attacks' says Garda Commissioner

There were 93 incidents of spitting and/or coughing against gardaí between April 8 and June 6, 2020, with officers having to use anti-spit guards on 70 occasions. 

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said spitting and coughing attacks against Gardaí remain a "serious concern for the organisation".

There were 93 incidents of spitting and/or coughing against Gardaí between April 8 and June 6, 2020, with officers having to use anti-spit guards on 70 occasions. 

"While the rate is reducing, Gardaí continue to be subjected to despicable spitting and coughing attacks. 

"This remains a serious concern for the organisation. 

"These are a significant health and safety risk to our members in the current environment. 

"We must protect them from such attacks," Commissioner Harris said.

"This includes having the option of using anti-spit guards in very limited circumstances. 

"We have made it clear these anti-spit guards are only to be used as last resort and in line with the Garda Decision Making Model, which includes at its centre human rights and our Code of Ethics," he continued.

Today, Gardaí provided information on how many times the regulations were invoked.

From 8 April, which was when the regulations came into effect, until 6 June 2020 inclusive, Gardaí invoked the regulations 302 times out of more than a million interactions with the public. 

"These include both arrests and incidents without arrest where name and address details were taken for consultation with the DPP on the decision to issue charges. 

"Arrest remains a last resort.

"Of the 302 incidents, two were as a result of an instruction from a relevant medical professional as per the Act.

"As per Garda policy in relation to the regulations, in all cases where arrests were made under the regulations, members of An Garda Síochána must consult with the Director of Public Prosecutions on the decision to charge," Gardaí stated.

To date, in 82 of these incidents, a charge or summons has issued and in 14 of the 302 incidents, the DPP directed no charge.

The remainder continue to be under criminal investigation.

As Ireland has moved into Phase Two, people are now permitted to travel anywhere in their own county or within a 20km radius of their home.

It is no longer a criminal penalty to breach the travel limit, meaning Gardaí no longer have the power to enforce the movement restrictions laid out in the emergency Covid-19 legislation introduced by the Government.

However, Commissioner Harris has urged the public to continue to play their part and only make necessary journeys.

"There has been very good compliance with the public health guidelines.

"As we enter Phase Two, it is important that we all continue to play our part in reducing the spreading of Covid-19 by staying local, not making unnecessary journeys, and maintaining social distancing," he said.

"At the outset of the Covid-19 situation, I said that An Garda Síochána will continue to operate as a community-based policing service with a focus on protecting the vulnerable. 

"This approach will not change during this phase," Commissioner Harris continued.

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